Biography - William E. Moberly

WILLIAM E. MOBERLY, retired attorney and real estate, Cobden, was born in Garrard County, Ky., near Lexington, in 1822, to John and Mahal a Moberly, He was from Maryland, and died when our subject was young. She afterward married. By first husband she had two sons — our subject, and John Moberly, who has been a member of the Georgia Senate for some time. The complete history of William E. Moberly would occupy a volume in itself, but a few of the leading facts in his life will be given. He was raised on a farm, and when a young man went to Missouri to seek his fortune; he was educated in the common schools of Kentucky, and after going to Missouri studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1849, and in 1850 commenced the practice of his profession at Brunswick, Mo.; he very soon stood at the head, and for several years had one side of every important case in the county. He continued in his practice until 1860, when he was elected President of the North Missouri Railroad, a road in which he was largely interested. He continued President for over three years, and owned the controlling interest in the road before selling out; during the time, he platted the town of Moberly, Mo., and it was named in his honor. In 1846, he was elected to the Missouri State Legislature, from Macon County, as a Whig; he served for two terms, then declined to run for any office afterward if he thought he could be elected, but several times was a candidate for the sake of keeping party alive, although he knew he could not be elected. For three years during the war, he was Colonel of a regiment in Missouri. They were located around the old home of Gren. Price, and their work was to keep down the bushwhackers. Previous to the war, he was a large slave-holder, and although his friends protested, he was ready to uphold his nation, although he knew that in its success he would lose his slaves. Among the slaves in his house was a sister of Senator Bruce, of Mississippi, and it was in his kitchen that the future Senator received his first lessons in reading; for two years, he was the body-guard of our subject. In the latter days of 1864, after quiet had been restored in Missouri, Mr. Moberly moved to St. Louis, Mo., and engaged in the real estate business, and has had his office there since. By his keen business faculties, he added to his already large property. Before the war, he had about twenty-five or thirty thousand acres of land, but when locating in St. Louis he transferred it mostly into city property; at one time, it was estimated that he was worth half a million dollars, but he sold his railroad stocks and invested over $300,000 in the North Missouri Insurance Company) thinking that it was in good hands; he did not give the insurance business the attention that he should, and before he was aware of it the officers had made a blunder, and the credit of the company was lost. He put in $40,000 more to try saving the company, but to no purpose, its credit was destroyed, and all was lost; about the same time, other property declined in value, so his losses were great, outside of the insurance. Although Mr. M. had made a success which but few attain, he lost most of it, but through no fault of his own. In 1880, he bought his present beautiful residence north of Cobden, and will here end his days in quiet, away from the excitement of a busy city life. In 1840, in Missouri, he was married to Martha A. Collins; she was also a Kentuckian by birth and education; daughter of Joseph and Mary (Woolfork) Collins, an old and wealthy family of Kentucky. Mr. and Mrs. Moberly never had children of their own, but have adopted and raised a large family, and have well educated them. This is, they consider, the best investment they ever made, for it cannot be taken away. Mr. Moberly is a member of the I. O. O. F., and in early life was Deputy Grand Master of the State of Missouri, and represented the State Lodge in the National Lodge. From early life he and his wife have been members of the Christian Church, but are also Spiritualists; not those, however, that believe in mediums. He now takes no part in political life.

Extracted 26 Jul 2021 by Norma Hass from 1883 History of Alexander, Union, and Pulaski Counties, Illinois, Part V, pages 136-137.

Templates in Time